References from trusted friends or family members can help you find a financial planner; however, keep in mind that your friends' financial situations and goals may differ from yours and, therefore, their planners won't necessarily be the best fit for you.

The Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Board of Standards certifies financial planners and maintains an online list of certified financial planners on its CFP Board of Standards website. You can locate a certified financial planner, and verify their status, by using the "Find a CFP Professional" search box, searching by city, state or zip code. You can also search by adding additional information regarding:

  • Your investable assets
  • Preferred compensation method (commission and fee, commission only, etc)

  • Areas of specialization

  • Languages

  • Name

Another option is to find a Certified Public Accountant who has earned the Personal Financial Specialist credential (CPA/PFS) from the American Institute of Certified Public Accounts. To find a CPA/PFS, you can visit the American Institute of CPAs website, select "For the Public" and select "Find a CPA" from the drop-down menu. From here you will be able to select the link for "Personal Financial Specialists (PFS)" where you can click "Find a CPA/PFS."

You can locate a Registered Financial Planner, certified by the Registered Financial Planner Institute (RFPI), by searching on the RFPI website; you can search by country (USA, Canada and several others), city, state, specialty, name or company.

Whether you use a friend's recommendation or use one of the above-mentioned websites to search for a financial planner, it is important to ask your potential planner questions such as:

  • What are your credentials and experience?
  • How are you to be compensated?

  • Do you have an area of expertise?

  • What services will you provide?

  • Can I see references from other clients?

Ideally, you will have a lasting and beneficial relationship with your financial planner, so it is advisable to ask questions and interview several planners before making any decisions.

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